TechM Sacks Chief Diver­sity Of­fi­cer for Dis­crim­i­na­tion

Ear­lier, group chair­man Anand Mahin­dra as­sured that ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion would be taken in the mat­ter

The Economic Times - - Disruption: Startups & Tech - Our Bureau

Mum­bai: Tech Mahin­dra has sacked its chief diver­sity of­fi­cer, Richa Gau­tam, af­ter an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that she had dis­crim­i­nated against and ha­rassed a for­mer em­ployee over his sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

Last week, Gourav Pro­bir Pra­manik, who iden­ti­fies him­self as gay, ac­cused Gau­tam of dis­crim­i­na­tory be­hav­iour and ha­rass­ment at work­place to­wards him­self and oth­ers from mi­nor­ity sex­ual and re­li­gious groups. The com­pany im­me­di­ately launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and its om­buds­man con­tacted Pra­manik.

In a tweet ad­dressed to Pra­manik on Satur­day evening, Tech Mahin­dra said fol­low­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, “the con­cerned em­ployee has been sep­a­rated from the em­ploy­ment of the com­pany with im­me­di­ate ef­fect”.

Pra­manik said he stood vin­di­cated, but had not re­ceived any com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the com­pany apart from one tweet.

“I have not re­ceived any email or call from the com­pany on the re­sults of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. No apol­ogy yet,” Pra­manik told ET. “I want to know what steps would Tech Mahin­dra take to make sure th­ese in­ci­dents do not oc­cur again. Fir­ing the of­fi­cer does not ab­solve the com­pany of its guilt. How did it go unchecked?"

An email sent to Tech Mahin­dra seek­ing to un­der­stand whether the IT com­pany is re­work­ing its diver­sity pol­icy did not elicit a re­sponse un­til press time on Sun­day.

In its tweet on Satur­day, the com­pany said, “At Tech Mahin­dra, we be­lieve in diver­sity & in­clu­sion & con­demn dis­crim­i­na­tion of any kind in the work­place.”

Pra­manik had ear­lier up­loaded screen­shots of an email he wrote to Gau­tam af­ter the Supreme Court de­crim­i­nalised ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity ear­lier this month. In his email, he al­leged that Gau­tam ex­pressed her ha­tred to­wards ho­mo­sex­u­als and Mus­lims by call­ing them despicable names. He said Gau­tam mocked at him for be­ing “ef­fem­i­nate”. Mahin­dra Group chair­man Anand Mahin­dra had as­sured that ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion would be taken in the mat­ter.

Pra­manik said he an­swered all the ques­tions asked by the Tech Mahin­dra om­buds­man and pro­vided ev­i­dence for in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He said many peo­ple came for­ward to share their ex­pe­ri­ence, some on record and some anony­mously.

Nir­mala Menon, founder, In­ter­weave Con­sult­ing, which works in the space of in­clu­sion at work­places, told ET that more com­pa­nies were seek­ing help to train em­ploy­ees and strengthen poli­cies on in­clu­sion and diver­sity at work­place.

“Ear­lier, con­ver­sa­tions around diver­sity used to be bi­nary in terms of male and fe­male. Now it cov­ers an en­tire spec­trum of gen­der and sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. We need to change mind­sets of peo­ple and build re­spect­ful work­places,” said Menon. “If dis­re­spect­ful com­ments go un­der the radar, it can lead to bul­ly­ing and sex­ual ha­rass­ment.” She has worked with Ama­zon, IBM, Mi­crosoft, HSBC, Fi­delity and the Tata Group in In­dia.

NIR­MALA MENON Founder, In­ter­weave Con­sult­ing Ear­lier, con­ver­sa­tions around diver­sity used to be bi­nary in terms of male and fe­male. Now it cov­ers an en­tire spec­trum of gen­der and sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion

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